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Reputation management through crises

For businesses, a compassionate and savvy response to the COVID-19 pandemic involves transparent, accurate and realistic communications. This serves to protect not only employees’ and customers’ health, but also a business’s reputations. In PropertyCasualty360, our VP Rod Hughes offers guidance on reputation and crisis communications for insurance professionals and all B2B professionals.

Insurance, insights, and acrobats: RIMS 2017

The annual RIMS conference is always a worthwhile annual reunion for the insurance industry. It’s an enormous event that gathers carriers, brokers, and tech companies to network and (dare I say) have a good bit of fun! For those who’ve been, they know: the RIMS parties are something else. This year’s event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center here in Philadelphia treated attendees to acrobats in the main atrium, a champagne fairy, a Billy Idol concert and remarks from Michael J. Fox.

But the conference isn’t short on substance, either. There were valuable educational sessions, tasty meals and inspiring speakers. It also gathers the insurance and business media to meet in one place. From a public relations perspective, that is an incredible opportunity. It is the time to connect key reporters and industry thought leaders to engage in constructive conversations about risk and insurance.

We used the opportunity to say “hi” to old friends on the media side and introduce them to clients as future resources. We also facilitated some on-site interviews to make sure our clients got in front of the RIMS audience – a key group for anyone looking to get their message across to broker, carriers, and more.

In the case of one of our attending clients Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual Insurance, we also got the opportunity to see things from the exhibitor perspective as we captured social media content for them. Check out this video of a critical loss control tool they are using with their customers demonstrated at their exhibit booth.

Social media was a key component of the conference, down to the #RIMS2017 hashtag displayed boldly in giant letters in the entrance to the convention center. Screens throughout the convention center compiled tweets with the hashtag, and people were quick to pose for photos as the “I” in RIMS (like we did).

Sam_Eileen at RIMS2017_2

The RIMS conference may be primarily an education and networking opportunity for the insurance pros involved, but for us insurance PR pros, these opportunities to connect with reporters and create social media content were just as important. Thanks to the RIMS organization for a valuable conference. See you in San Antonio!

On A.M. BestTV, AAMGA’s Bernie Heinze discusses recent visit to Lloyd’s

BernieandJohnWeber

Earlier this month, Bernie Heinze, executive director of AAMGA, briefed A.M. BestTV’s John Weber about his recent visit to Lloyd’s to discuss the role of MGAs in transfers, audits and more. Watch the interview here.

AAMGA calls for action on NARAB in interview with A.M. BestTV

On the left, John Weber of A.M. BestTV. On the right, Bernie Heinze of AAMGA.

Bernie Heinze of AAMGA speaks with John Weber of A.M. BestTV.

Eight months after the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Act (NARAB II) was signed into law, the federal government still has not appointed board to oversee its provisions.

In a conversation with A.M. BestTV’s John Weber, AAMGA president Bernie Heinze discusses this issue and the steps the AAMGA is taking to address this problem. Watch the interview here.

How to integrate social media in crisis communications


ePublicist / Foter / CC BY-ND

A crisis is a time of uncertainty that requires the careful management of information. If you don’t move quickly to present the facts and explain your position, then others will do it for you – and that puts the accuracy of the words and images they use beyond your control.

The words and images you use can either spell success and strengthen your future or damage your company’s reputation for years to come. The impact of social media on the crisis communications process has been significant.

Today information flows faster is more complex and independent. It is spread through multiple channels, and as a result, is often less reliable and more difficult to control. You often have just a few hours or minutes to communicate.

Social media must be fully integrated in your crisis communications plan. That means, your social networks are of equal import as other audiences and your community manager should be an effective communicator, as well as a media-savvy professional with appropriate technical skills.

Messaging must be also consistent with other channels, but appropriate for social networks. Candor is expected and an authentic voice is critical.  And, as crisis communications is a two-way process, listening through your social networks can inform your communications with many different audiences.

Above all, you need to consider and plan for all contingencies. Each type of crisis should be considered. Social media will play a critical role in communicating during and after natural disasters, terrorist attacks, cyber breaches and, of course, crises created by social media. But also consider its role in financial crises, human resources issues and (in the insurance world) claims and service issues.

Join me on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 at 11 a.m. EST for the IMCA webcast, “Integrating Social Media in Crisis Communications,” where I’ll explore these issues in more detail.

Recurring Role: Insurance Agent Stars in Web Series

American Modern Insurance Group: The Build

Listen to the Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, radio interview of Adam Boca with Kentucky’s 93 WKCT News Talk radio about his fourth episode on the popular web series, The BUILD. Adam, a licensed insurance agent with the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY, filmed a series of episodes in June 2013 that began airing in January.

The series, with thousands of viewers tuning in via YouTube and Facebook, follows the step-by-step rebuild and restoration of a classic 1965 Chevelle Malibu SS.

The BUILD is sponsored by American Modern Insurance Group, a Kimball Communications’ client, and is filmed just outside Cincinnati, Ohio.

Think Digital First: Podcast

Video

Gary follows up his recent column in Best’s Review with a Best’s Day podcast. Listen below.

Gary on Insurance PR in Best’s Review

There’s a familiar face next to the “Top 5” insurance marketing column in April’s Best Review.

Gary shared his top-line insurance communications rules for the social media age, including best newsroom practices and the importance of a social media strategy.  Download the PDF of the column to read more — and let us know what you think.

Becoming Mobile and Social – Reflections from the IMCA Creative Forum

Finding really valuable take-aways from industry conferences can be a challenge. I went into the IMCA Creative Forum in Atlanta on Feb. 21 with a vested interest (full disclosure: I am on the IMCA board), but also some anticipation to learn more about everything from mobile marketing to social media integration.

Jon Beber of BilltoMobile opened the forum with insight into the incredible impact mobile marketing will have on our lives and the strategies of marketing and communications pros – smart phones, not computers, will drive everyday life and “PC analytics will not work with smart phones.” Mobile marketing needs to be part of the integrated communications mix.

James Wisdom, Director of New Media at Aflac, was a great follow-up with “The Power of Authenticity.” In this context, he discussed Aflac’s response to customer services issues raised on Facebook and their use of the Facebook Causes app: “If social media is talking about a cause, people are okay getting hammered about it.” More information I could use.

John Coombe of Liberty Mutual built on those ideas, describing their success with the Liberty Responsibility Project. He explained how this helped Liberty overcome consumer distrust about insurance and raised brand awareness 50 percent. They engaged customers in a dialogue and celebrated their customers’ responsibility – engaging over 10 million unique visitors. He also pointed out that 67% of agents are engaged in social media. That’s a tidbit that will help.

These are all great ideas and tidbits of information, but how do I sell these to my clients who may be timid or help them pitch their forward-thinking communications ideas to management? No worry – it was Sam Harrison up next with great tools for pitching ideas, all built on that great David Olgivy quote: “Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea until its presented to them by a good salesperson.” And he added 5 ideas for pitching ideas to management, emphasizing that “passion is a transfer of enthusiasm.”

After lunch, Tom Pytel of Allied World showed how his in-house creative team breaks through the marketing boredom and never lets budget limit creativity. Innovating collateral is not specifically relevant to my work, but it was inspiring to all of us who may be tempted to succumb to mediocrity.

And finally Howard Yermish (he claims to be the only one by that name) on “Internet Marketing, Creativity and Stravinsky.” He captured my interest with: “If you think you can control the flow of information from point A to point B, the Internet will kill you,” and kept on with an inspiring, hour-long presentation on unlocking our creativity using lessons from composers. We then broke into groups to put the theories to the test.

As you can probably tell, I walked away from the Creative Forum bursting with new ideas, my left and right brain feeling some connection. Not only did I gain practical information on mobile marketing and more, but I was inspired to push our clients with bolder ideas – and I have better tools to sell them on these ideas.

Insurance Agency Stats Illustrate Need for B2B Social Media Adoption

My PR agency works with insurance carriers, MGAs, wholesale brokers and other insurance entities that need to reach agents and brokers to be successful. So when I read a recent article (http://bit.ly/6sBxSO) reporting that less than a quarter of insurance agents and brokers use social media, I was reminded of why it can be a challenge to convince our clients – and any business-to-business company – to implement social media strategies.

Some think it will be a waste of time and resources. Others wonder just how it can help their business. And many just don’t understand it and are reluctant to dedicate time and effort to get up to speed. But to such reluctance, I would cite another statistic from the same magazine article – 20 percent of agents and brokers are considering using social media in 2010.

The plain fact is that social media/networking will continue to grow so it should be part of the marketing and communications strategies for any B2B company. It can supplement your print advertising and email blasts – both of which are declining in effectiveness, by the way. And on the PR side, you probably send press releases, write articles for trade magazines and attend events to network, exhibit or speak. Social media is another tool at your disposal.

Here are a couple of examples:

Social media can help with networking. For example, LinkedIn is an easy, natural way to network. It’s all about relationships and social networking is another way to build and maintain relationships.  One marketing pro I know got a new account the same day he set up his LinkedIn account.

Social media is a great way to connect with your audience and share your insights and expertise. If you are in the insurance industry, for example, Twitter is a way to share information that agents and brokers find helpful in doing business. Don’t try to sell yourself. Use the same reasoning as if you were speaking at an industry event or writing an article for one of the trade magazines. Speak about issues of interest to agents and brokers.

Remember, approach social media like any marketing decision – start with a strategy and turn to experts. Your PR and/or ad agency are a logical choice, but there are also Internet marketing firms that specialize in this. Or read up on it first and do it yourself. It is very easy.

Just don’t let news about slow adoption rates slow you down. Whatever your business, as more and more people adopt social media strategies, you want to be there.